Search This Blog

My academic journey through Taylor Swift songs | Just for fun | Goodbye, academia

I was 11 when I decided that I wanted to be a physicist. 

I learned that rest and motion were relative and that the grand unified theory still needed a lot of help.

Photo by israel palacio on Unsplash

But I never scored the highest marks in physics.

I always did better in biology, chemistry, and of course, English.

My teachers thought I would go on to major in English.

To be fair, I did want to become a writer even earlier and had started writing a book when I was 8.

(But I ditched it because the topic required more life experience) 

I did better even in math! My most feared (and revered) subject throughout school.

Why couldn't I have the validation that pursuing physics was the right choice for me?

Even then, I Knew You Were Trouble, my physics ambitions. 

But I was determined that: You Belong With Me.

Throughout high school, though, I continued to score just about average in physics.

It was a struggle but it was never my Style to give up. So, I majored in physics in college.

Actually, I Did Something Bad and double majored in physics and chemistry and minored in math and music.

(Totally unnecessary, prospective undergrads. One major is enough)

I had come all the way to the United States to pursue my ambitions and promptly lost my mind over the available opportunities.

I was ready to Begin Again and conquer. 

My Love Story with science took off. I discovered partial credit, undergraduate research opportunities, and super supportive professors.

If not Teardrops on My Guitar, there were plenty of sweat drops on my violin and a permanent scab on my collarbone.

From calculus 2 in the morning to symphony practice at night, I ran around the giant NC State campus acting like I Don't Wanna Live Forever (actually I do) 

Call It What You Want, but even the wonderful people running the dining hall would sometimes let me in late - thank goodness and the sweet people of North Carolina 💓

Then I went to graduate school - of course, for physics.

I was super excited to get into graduate school but I was not totally Out of the Woods, yet.

I had a hard time finding the right fit for a research group. 

Yes, in America, you get into graduate school and then you get recruited by a research group. 

I wanted to get into something like astrophysics or cosmology, but there was tough competition.

I was a teaching assistant and every door I knocked on only opened to fellowship holders. You know, students that didn't have teaching duties. 

I knocked on lots of doors. They all said no.

So then I decided to start from a Blank Space and joined a group in condensed matter experiment.

Look What You Made Me Do, Astro peeps. 

I believe in moving in the forward direction at all times, no matter what. I don't wait for things to happen, not even astrophysics.

I did feel sad whenever I looked up at the night sky, though, which was pretty inconvenient.

At the beginning of my first Summer in grad school, I pushed again and harder and finally got my first break:

Cosmology theory! It was Gorgeous.

This led to an opportunity in cosmology experiment at the end of the Summer. 

On the one hand, I was really thrilled to be in cosmology, on the other hand, the group was a terrible fit. Absolutely no support.

Moreover, whenever I googled cosmology, I found more on makeup than anything else.

I needed a good advisor! But I was all alone and my grad career was not moving forward. 

Again, I hate to stagnate and do nothing.

It was a Delicate situation and I was running out of teaching assistantship support. 

Somehow, I managed to switch groups again without Bad Blood and landed in my final research group.

Everything about this group was better. More support, more science.

I had never taken a particle physics class before, but particle astrophysics felt like it was Mine.

Never in my Wildest Dreams did I think I would get to go to Antarctica, but I got to have the experience of a lifetime.

My Ph.D. ended up being much more exciting than I had imagined. 

I learned so many things including how to Shake It Off, do better, and move on when criticized.

I got a much closer look at academia during the last year of my Ph.D. - the most challenging year.

This led me to update my End Game: I didn't want to be a professor anymore.

It was rough but I transitioned to industry. 

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, but academia and I go way back so I won't forget what has been Ours


Thank you to all my professors especially those who didn't believe in me. Life has been evermore interesting because of you. 

Thank you to Taylor Swift for being a genius, hit songwriter/singer.

Thank you to all my academic friends - Y'all are the best. Good luck and goodbye. Take care of the night sky for me 💙 

Thank you to YOU for reading - please comment below!


  1. Very well written Oindree!!!!!!!! Congrats for the transition!!

    1. Thank you, Gaowei!!
      Excited to hear from you!

  2. You are so full of energy Oindree! Loved your write-up :)
    I am sure you have many more adventures waiting for you!!!

    1. Oh thank you thank you Sahana!!
      Awesome to see you here :)

  3. Very creative and imaginative writing. Very different in style and content and special for being so

  4. What a great way to write about your experiences. I love that you talked about taking the hardest path and then the hardest decision to shift your direction. Your insight into yourself is a great strength. Great way to use Tay tay song titles :) Great reading.

    1. Hi Sally!
      Thank you so much for reading and for the very kind comments!!
      Hope to see you back here!
      Yes, TAYLOR! :) :)


How to finish your PhD and graduate in a timely manner

So you started a Ph.D. Great! You are doing lots of research, or maybe you are burned out. Either is understandable. Maybe your a...